Daily Beast Snarks Over 'Nerds' Critiquing Media's Shoddy Coverage of Ahmed Mohamed's Clock

The Daily Beast is rather annoyed with electronics "nerds" who have dared to challenge the mainstream media's narrative about Irving, Texas teenager Ahmed Mohamed's pencil-case clock, which got him in a brief scrape with authorities and briefly suspended from high school after administrators feared it was either a real or a hoax bomb.

In her September 21 post, "Nerds Rage Over Ahmed Mohamed's Clock," writer Kate Briquelet complained about electronics buffs and their "conspiracy" theories wherein they were questioning whether Mohamed's clock was not really all that inventive of a project as, indeed, it appears to have been quickly assembled from commercially-available circuitry, not made from scratch: 

The Muslim teen who became an overnight celebrity after Texas cops mistook his homemade clock for a bomb has received a White House invitation, shoutouts from Facebook, MIT, and NASA, and more than $15,000 for an academic scholarship.

But some engineers say something’s fishy about the high-schooler’s invention, and the Internet has been lit aflame by claims of conspiracy. The fact that a teenager was put in handcuffs over his clock appears to be less of a concern to some people than the apparently shoddy engineering of the "invention" in question.

Electronics experts who examined photos of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed’s creation called it a fraud loudly enough to grab the attention of famed atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins, who on Sunday tweeted: “We were all fooled.”

Dawkins went as far as suggesting the ninth-grader had a “motive” for his arrest over the digital clock, which was inside a black pencil case and tied shut with a cable. “If this is true, what was his motive?” Dawkins wrote. “Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so.”

Congratulations, Ahmed, you've magically made the militant atheist Richard Dawkins part of the vast right-wing media machine! 

Briquelet did seem to concede that electronics geeks probably have a very valid point about the lack of complexity of Mohamed's design and hence their lamenting all the fuss making him out to be a budding genius. That said, she did seem annoyed that apolitical electronics geeks just won't go along with the mainstream media narrative (emphases mine):

Anthony DiPasquale, the webmaster for Artvoice.com, exposed the circuitry behind Mohamed’s clock. In an interview with The Daily Beast, he said, “My initial reaction was probably pretty similar to everyone else’s: ‘Wow, I feel really sorry for the kid’... The nerd in me wanted to know specifically what he did—what technology or methods he might’ve used.”

But the self-styled electronics geek says that Mohamed’s homemade gadget is actually a factory-produced clock. “Somewhere in all of this—there has indeed been a hoax,” he wrote in a controversial post on Artvoice. “Ahmed Mohamed didn’t invent his own alarm clock. He didn’t even build a clock.”

DiPasquale said all signs point to a mass-produced model. He traced the 1980s-era circuit board, which has a silk-screened “M” logo, to a vintage Micronta clock found on eBay. He noted other “dead giveaways” of a store-bought clock, including a switch to select 12- or 24-hour time and a battery backup. 

“Anyone with even a basic hobby-level understanding could see it was a commercially available mass-produced product that was just taken out of its enclosure, and placed in a pencil box,” DiPasquale told The Daily Beast. “So I read some more about the story, and nowhere did I see anybody actually bring that point up.”

[...]

“Here we have a social media frenzy going on, with everybody to the president of the United States giving him a pat on the back, and I started thinking less about the clock, and more about us, as a society,” he added.

DiPasquale questioned if other aspects of the teenager’s story about the clock aren’t being fully reported or fact-checked by reporters. In one interview, for example, Mohamed says he closed the pencil case with a cord so it wouldn’t look suspicious in school.

“I’m curious, why would ‘looking suspicious’ have even crossed his mind before this whole event unfolded, if he was truly showing off a hobby project, something so innocuous as an alarm clock. Why did he choose a pencil box, one that looks like a miniature briefcase no less, as an enclosure for a clock?” DiPasquale wrote.

The public outcry over Mohamed’s arrest was also, presumably, less about the clock and more about what it says about us, as a society, that such a thing would happen.

Since carrying a pencil box is not a crime, Mohamed does not, presumably, owe anyone an explanation. But DiPasquale says that Mohamed and his poorly repurposed clock aren’t the problem—it’s the knee-jerk reaction from the press and social media activists crying racism and attacking school administrators and police without knowing all the facts.

“Because, is it possible, that maybe, just maybe, this was actually a hoax bomb?” he wrote. “A silly prank that was taken the wrong way? That the media then ran with, and everyone else got carried away? Maybe there wasn’t even any racial or religious bias on the parts of the teachers and police.”

DiPasquale does not appear to have offered any evidence supporting his hoax theory.

The Daily Beast

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